Local attorney weighs in on Noor testimony

Cross examination of ex-cop expected to continue Friday.

Susie Jones
April 25, 2019 - 6:16 pm

. (Photo by Stephen Maturen/Getty Images)

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Former Minneapolis Police Officer Mohamed Noor took the stand in his own defense Thursday in the murder trial over the death of Justine Damond, providing a second by second account of the crucial moments leading up to his decision to fire his gun through his squad car window. 

Noor is charged with murder and manslaughter in the July 2017 death of the Australian-born Damond.  He shared his story for the first time, telling jurors about his life, his family, and how he came to be a police officer.

Twin Cities defense attorney Marsh Hallberg, who is not associated with the case but is attending, said he found Noor’s testimony to be compelling.

“I thought he presented very well so far, humanizing, told this very warming story about fleeing Somalia with his family and his dad worked for the UN, talked about all of his siblings, being very accomplished doctors and working in charity in Africa and real estate and all those types of things,”  Hallberg said. “He talked about his passion for service and having a love of the Cities and just being so proud to be here so that he wanted to give back by becoming a police officer.”

Noor testified that the training included how to respond to possible ambushes. He said he was drilled to understand that "action is better than reaction" and that reacting too late may mean "you die."  

Defense attorney Thomas Plunkett guided Noor through the night of the shooting, and how he and his partner Matthew Harrity had responded to the 911 call about a possible assault taking place in South Minneapolis.

Noor said they turned their lights off as they drove down the alley, searching for evidence of an assault. He said that they had gotten to the end of the alley, and saw a bicyclist and stopped.

"Noor goes through this quick sequence of boom, boom, boom about how he hears this loud bang on the squad," Hallberg said.

For Hallberg, Plunkett did a good job of pacing the questions, leading up to the second before the shot. "Suddenly he said someone appears and he hears Harrity say, "Oh Jesus" and he starts reaching for his gun."

Noor testified that he saw fear in Harrity’s face, and saw that Harrity was having trouble getting his gun unholstered. He said Noor shot Damond because he thought they were being ambushed.

Noor said he saw a woman in a pink shirt with blond hair outside Harrity's window raise her arm. He said he fired with intent "to stop the threat." because he feared they were being ambushed.

The prosecution is in the middle of cross examination, which is expected to continue Friday.

Hallberg noted that the extra day will give the state time to fine tune their questions. “Friday's going to be the big day. And I've always said that 90% of what we've done, this case has been noise all about talking about gun residue and other stuff. It's about Noor, it's about Harrity and it's about that video,” Hallberg said.

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